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Area Boaters Learn Swiftwater Rescue

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CHATHAM COUNTY — A boater had a bigger adventure than he bargained for when he got caught in rapid, rising water on the Haw River. He was stuck all night, and finally rescued by a military helicopter.

Rescues of this sort happen all too often. That is why some boaters are learning how to prevent a drowning or some other disaster on the water. They are students in a swiftwater rescue course.

"First, (they learn) how to protect themselves in the water, how to recognize dangers, and (then) how to take care of other people that are having trouble," says instructor Robin Pope.

Plenty of weekend warriors in canoes and kayaks have found themselves in trouble in the rapid waters of the Haw River. People who know their sport also know it is important to respect the water.

"A lot of us have been in scary situations," says class member Randy Schmitz, "(and me) especially since I've just started learning and people get beat up a little bit."

One couple got in over their heads when their boat started taking on water. Some students dove in to help. This is the kind of scenario they are training for.

"When they were coming down, they took on water and the weren't able to handle the boat and they flipped over and swam," says Pope.

Over the last two years, about a hundred boaters here in the Triangle have taken this swiftwater rescue course. The lifesaving skills they have learned help make the water safer for everyone.

The Swiftwater Rescue Course is taught by the Triangle chapter of the American Canoe Association.


Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
Chad Flowers, Photographer
Julian King, Web Editor

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